Preparation pays off for Coal Ridge
PARACHUTE — The football teams at Grand Valley and Coal Ridge High Schools found out Friday night just how much practice makes perfect.
With Titans coach Kyle Sager crediting a thorough week of preparation for his teams success for their second victory of the season, The Titans jumped to a big lead early and pitched a shutout on defense en route to a 27-7 nonleague victory.
“The difference between this week and last week, put simply, was that we had a great week of practice,” Coal Ridge coach Kyle Sager said. “The boys were focused, the boys prepared and they did all of the little things they needed to do to correct our mistakes from last week.”
For sure, Coal Ridge (2-1 overall) made a few mistakes against a powerful Meeker team during a 52-6 loss on Sept. 5. On Friday against Grand Valley, however, the only big mistake that Coal Ridge made resulted in a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown by Grand Valley’s Tyler Matthews late in the second quarter.
That was about it, though. Thanks in part to 124 rushing yards from Jared Duran and two touchdown throws from quarterback Jackson Sargent, Coal Ridge won its second of three nonleague games.
“The week before Meeker, we were so amped up about our win against Dolores,” Sargent, the Titans’ sophomore quarterback, said of Coal Ridge’s. “We didn’t practice as well as we should have for the Meeker game.
“This week,” he continued, “we worked our hearts out.”
Grand Valley (0-3), meanwhile, looked like it was making strides offensively prior to Friday following the Cardinals’ performance in a loss to Roaring Fork in Carbondale. Coal Ridge kept that from progressing, however, limiting Grand Valley to just 95 yards of total offense. Cardinals quarterback Leon Hernandez finished just 6-of-24 passing for 55 yards with an interception.
Meanwhile, first-year Grand Valley coach Danny Manzanares pointed to preparation as the deciding point for his team’s performance.
“Coal Ridge did a good job of stopping things in the middle,” the coach said. “But for us, we didn’t have a good week of practice offensively every day. Our focus didn’t seem to be there, and I kept warning the kids that something like that is going to translate onto the field. Tonight, the practices translated over to the field, and we didn’t have good practices.”
Coal Ridge went on top to stay with 3 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Duran scored on a 30-yard jaunt to the endzone. The Titans upped it to 14-0 in the second quarter on a 3-yard TD from Jacob Larsen, but cardinals pulled within a touchdown on Matthews’ interception return off a pass from Sargent.
The Titans bounced right back, though, and closed the half with a TD pass from Sargent to Colton Ellis as time expired. Ellis made a leaping catch off a throw Sargent made when he was scrambling, and he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he did a jump flip into the end zone.
“That was a great catch he made,” Sargent said.
Then, he added with a smile: “But he probably shouldn’t have done that.”
Sargent capped the scoring with his second TD toss — a 26-yard strike to Tyler Sheerin with 1 minute remaining in the game.
Coal Ridge will continue nonleague play next Friday at Olathe. Grand Valley will play again next Friday when it hosts Basalt.
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It may be by a technicality, but the Valley Valkyries 7s rugby club were the de facto champions of their hosted tournament Saturday.